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Consultation begins on national implementation of EU directive on access to financial information

Ministry of the Interior
Publication date 12.2.2021 10.24 | Published in English on 12.2.2021 at 10.47
Press release 17/2021

The Ministry of the Interior has prepared legislative amendments to implement the EU directive on access to financial information at national level. The directive contains rules to facilitate the use of information held in bank account registries by the authorities for the purpose of preventing, detecting, investigating or prosecuting certain offences.

Work on the legislative project has progressed and a consultation on the national implementation of the directive will now be launched. 

Powers will be granted to authorities responsible for detecting and investigating serious offences 

According to the directive, each Member State must designate the competent authorities empowered to access and search its national centralised bank account registry. Under the directive, access to bank and payment account registries may be granted to authorities competent for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of serious offences.

The government proposal not only designates the authorities that would have direct access to the bank and payment accounts control system as set out in the directive, but it also proposes that the current number of authorities authorised to use the bank and payment accounts control system should be extended. Within the meaning of the directive, access would be granted to the police, the Finnish Security and Intelligence Service, Customs, the Border Guard and prosecutors. 

In addition, provisions are now proposed in national legislation under which the number of authorities accessing the system be extended to those authorities that already have the right to access information held in the system on the basis of the existing regulation, but which still partly obtain the information even manually. At present, only the competent authorities under the Act on Preventing Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing are allowed to access the bank and payment accounts control system when they perform tasks related to money laundering.

Centralised bank account registries mean the centralised automated mechanisms, such as central registries or central electronic data retrieval systems. They allow competent authorities to search electronically information on bank and payment accounts as well as on their holders and beneficial owners.

In addition to extending the number of competent authorities, the government proposal suggests adding technical solutions, such as the development of an application that would facilitate the implementation of the extension to be integrated in the bank and payment accounts control system.

The directive also lays down provisions on the exchange of information between Financial Intelligence Units and with Europol. As required by the implementation of the directive, it is also proposed that the powers of the Financial Intelligence Unit be extended to cover offences under the Europol Regulation. In Finland, the Financial Intelligence Unit operates under the National Bureau of Investigation.

In the work, particular attention has been paid to the right to privacy and the protection of personal data guaranteed by the Constitution and the requirements of data protection provisions.

The directive must be implemented into national law by August 2021

The directive relates to the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive, which requires Member States to put in place centralised bank account registries or data retrieval systems allowing the timely identification of the persons holding bank and payment accounts and safe-deposit boxes. 

In Finland, the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive was implemented, among other things, by means of the Act on the Bank and Payment Accounts Control System, which entered into force on 1 May 2019. Its provisions on the bank and payment account data retrieval system and on the bank and payment account registry have been applied since 1 September 2020.

The directive was adopted on 20 June 2019 and Member States must bring into force the acts, decrees and administrative regulations necessary for ensuring compliance with the directive no later than 1 August 2021. The proposed acts are intended to enter into force as soon as possible, with the exception of the provisions necessary for the technical development of the system proposed for the Act on the Bank and Payment Accounts Control System, which are intended to enter into force on 1 March 2022. 

Anne Lamminmäki, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 207, [email protected]